Charles Constant Delmonico is identified as one of the “friends of Henry Clapp in the city of New York,” but not necessarily as a Pfaffian (“Current Memoranda” 714). His family’s restaurant Delmonico’s was referred to in the Saturday Press piece “Sixes and Sevens.”
Charles Delmonico was the great-nephew of John and Peter Delmonico--the founders of Delmonico’s restaurant. Charles started working at the Chambers Street location while he was still a teenager. Even as a young man, he possessed a gift for making wise business decisions: “Charles was responsible for a policy which in later years he credited with having contributed as much as any single factor to Delmonico’s success” (Thomas 76). It was Charles who noticed that the “sort of man who patronized Delmonico’s . . . was not the sort that liked to be dunned about a bill; so the rule was laid down that bills should be presented only when a customer asked for one” (76). A twenty-two-year-old Charles later managed the luxurious 14th Street Delmonico’s.
The life of Charles Delmonico did not end well. In his final years, he seemed to fall into a depression. He was “subject to fits of temper, and was overbearing to employees whom he had used to treat with consideration . . . But in his most morbid, cynical moods, he kept a strict eye upon the operation of the restaurants, and nothing that went on there escaped his notice” (Thomas 204). Eventually, Charles had to be forcibly restrained and kept under observation at all times. In January of 1884, Charles managed to escape his handlers and to disappear; his body was found two weeks later in a roadside ditch (204-206). He may have been trying to visit his friend Gen. George McClellan and gotten disoriented along the way. He most likely succumbed to hypothermia and collapsed into the ditch (206).
Identified as one of "the friends of Henry Clapp in the city of New York," but not necessarily a Pfaffian.[pages:714]
Delmonico is credited with contributing towards a granite monument for Clapp's grave site.[pages:9]
It was Charles who noticed that the “sort of man who patronized Delmonico’s . . . was not the sort that liked to be dunned about a bill; so the rule was laid down that bills should be presented only when a customer asked for one” (76). This strategy was hugely successful, as was Charles’s unacknowledged use of a “blacklist.” A customer could be placed on the list for inappropriate behavior or for lack of payment. Interestingly, a person who had been “listed” would not be told of his (Delmonico’s catered almost exclusively to a male clientele) change in status. A “listed” customer was greeted in the same friendly manner as always, but his food order never made its way to the kitchen and his questions about the delay were met with polite smiles. “If the luckless customer at length demanded to see the proprietor, one of the Delmonicos would purr with sympathy and depart in the direction of the chef’s office 'to see what might be the trouble’” (77). Eventually the customer would realize his new position and leave the restaurant: “Men incurring this rebuff, it was said, were marked with a social stigma almost as ineradicable as that attached to being caught cheating at cards, in one’s own club” (77).
Charles maintained strict rules about proper conduct at his restaurant: “No lady was permitted to dine at Delmonico’s without a male escort” and men and women could not close the door while eating in a private room (131-32). However, when female members of the press decided to hold their own meetings (after being excluded from the New York Press Club meetings), Delmonico allowed them to use a private room at Delmonico's on 14th St. (139-40).[pages:51, 76, 80, 81, 84-86, 121, 122, 124-25, 129, 131-32, 133, 153, 154, 157-58, 161, 164, 172, 185-86, 187, 195, 199-200, 201-202, 203-208, 294, 209]
Charles Constant Delmonico.
SOURCE: Thomas, Lately. Delmonico’s: A Century of Splendor. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1967.
The Vault at Pfaff's
27 Memorial Drive West, Bethlehem, PA 18015